Stress-free travel tips from a Sedona spiritualist

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Pete A. Sanders Jr. is a time traveler. Not in the H.G. Wells sense of the word, with time machines and Morlocks, but in a metaphysical sense.

Sanders is an expert on vortex energy and meditation. He’s the founder of a nonprofit organization called Free Soul-Mind Body Education in Sedona, Arizona, that teaches spiritual healing principles. 

So what’s he doing in this travel column? Well, it turns out Sanders has a valuable perspective on ordinary travel. His insights include strategies for reducing stress, avoiding confrontations and finding positive energy no matter where you go. 

Sanders did a four-year hitch as a Navy officer, which took him around the world, and he remained an avid traveler after leaving the service. And – surprise! – Sanders has an MIT degree, which keeps him grounded even when he’s at cruising altitude – or crossing a dimensional threshold.

“I’m all about getting away from the woo-woo,” he says, “and getting to the wow-wow.”

So, about time travel. Sanders says it’s not as dramatic as the sci-fi version from the movies. You can train yourself to travel forward and backward in time through meditation. Forward time travel is about seeing possible timelines – futures that may or may not eventually happen but that can guide your actions now. Backward time scanning can help you clear old hurts that are degrading your quality of life, even on vacation. No need to worry about running into Biff Tannen from Back to the Future.

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How to reduce stress when you travel

Sanders, who is the author of several books including “You Are Psychic!: The Free Soul Method,” spends a lot of time talking about stress. In travel, a seemingly never-ending cycle of hassles and delays can make travelers feel like hamsters on a wheel. 

“To counter that, I recommend rapid minimeditations that unwind you and help you lower your blood pressure,” Sanders says. 

He recommends taking seven breaths as you visualize unwinding a tightened spring. It takes less than minute. It’s also a matter of shifting your attitude – from beating up on yourself (“I should have!”) to enhancing your serenity with a sense of purpose and progress (I’m learning more about how to …”). A positive attitude can also help. 

On a recent trip to Switzerland, Sanders tried to check into his hotel only to find that it was out of rooms. He had a reservation number and now, jet-lagged and exhausted, he chose to stay positive and did his minimeditation techniques to stay calm. The hotel found another room at an even better property – for the same price. When everything else is out of control, he says, “you can still control your attitude.”

Moderation makes for a better trip

Sanders says travelers miss the full rest and recharge opportunity when they try to soothe their distress with overeating, overdrinking and rushing to see everything. Add all those together, plus the inevitable stress of travel, and you have a potentially combustible mix of draining effects.

“A vacation should be about more than expanding your waistline,” he says. “It should enhance your well-being.”

Sanders’ lectures, which he delivers weekly at the Los Abrigados Resort Spa in Sedona, are filled with encouragements to consume responsibly. Take a hike, he says, but leave some time for quiet reflection when you arrive at the summit. Spend time with the ones you love instead of watching TV or shopping. These principles apply to virtually any vacation.

“Most people go on a trip without identifying ahead of time the essence of what would most recharge them – a quest for new insight and adventure or relief from stress and the healing of old hurts,” he says.

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Look for positive energy

Among Sanders’ areas of expertise are the legendary energy vortexes in Sedona. Vortexes are believed to be energy centers that are conducive to healing and meditation. The red rocks, blue sky and lush, green vegetation in central Arizona make the vortexes all the more memorable. But Sanders says you can find vortexes everywhere when you travel and benefit from their positive energy. The roof garden of a high-rise hotel can be an energy vortex, for example. 

“Just take the elevator to the top floor,” he says.

Maybe Sanders has found a deeper truth for all travelers, not just those seeking spiritual enlightenment. In a sense, everyone has a choice between positivity and negativity. Focusing on the uplifting aspects of a trip, even in small ways, can lead to a more enlightened spiritual journey. 

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, a plane is not a place of positive energy. “Too many people, too close together,” he says. But a glider, with just one or two people in it, can be a rich source of positive energy.

It’s unlikely you’ll get a chance to hit the “rewind” button for a vacation do-over, no matter how good your time-travel abilities. A few deep breaths, a little moderation and a lot of positive energy can ensure you’ll get your vacation right the first time.

More: ‘Blue Mind’: Why being near the water makes you happy

More travel tips from a spiritual guide

• Don’t be a control freak: Many travelers try to control every aspect of their trip, from beginning to end. That leads to frustration – and stress. Accept the positive and the negative. “Whatever is part of your vacation is part of your vacation,” Sanders says.

• Think of it as a journey: Travel, and, indeed life itself, is a journey. Some of the most useful tools for meditation are are labyrinths, which help you reflect spiritually as you walk, frequently leading to unexpected insights. Conscious, focused strolling is an essential part of a successful journey.

• Apply the insights when you come home: “For maximum benefit from your trip, think of how you can apply your new insights back at home,” he says. “Remember, you can be in control by choosing to learn from and build on what you are going through.”

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate. Contact him at chris@elliott.org or visit elliott.org.

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